A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Some offensive stereotyping of a Chinese man.
Positive Role Models
One of the lead characters, a sheriff, becomes a stumbling and incoherent alcoholic.
Violence & Scariness
Western movie violence. Shootings and killings with guns, rifles, and knives. Fistfights. A teenage boy shot in the chest turns down the offer of help, and commits suicide by shooting himself when no one is looking.
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"Hell." Native Americans called "Injuns."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A sheriff becomes an alcoholic, and is shown drinking excessive amounts of whiskey and acting extremely drunk. When he decides to quit, he has tremendous difficulty giving up drinking, and is shown hungover and finding it very difficult to do his job. Scenes in saloons where characters drink.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that El Dorado is a 1967 Western in which a gunslinger (John Wayne) teams up with an alcoholic sheriff (Robert Mitchum) to stop a thieving rancher and his henchmen. For much of the movie, Mitchum's character is in various states of extreme whiskey intoxication -- slurring his speech, getting into fights, stumbling over his feet and his words, and passing out. In another scene, a character played by a young James Caan sneaks into the bad guys' lair by pretending to be a Chinese man, engaging in the worst kinds of stereotyping, replete with slanted eyes and mispronounced letters and a painfully dated accent. The term "Injun" is also used. Some Western-style violence: rifle and gun shooting and killing, bad guys killed by thrown knives. A teenage boy shot in the chest turns down the offer of help, and commits suicide by shooting himself when no one is looking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While there is certainly some period charm to this movie, much of it has not aged well. While the chemistry between Wayne and Mitchum is legendary, other aspects of El Dorado, such as alcoholism being shown as something semi-comical and a painful imitation of a Chinese man by Caan, prevent it from belonging in the league of Western movies for the ages. And while there are exciting action scenes and entertaining dialogue at times, the complicated threads of the storyline make this best for those who are already fans of Westerns.
While each individual aspect to the story is interesting enough -- rival range owners fighting for water rights, a heartbroken sheriff who can't stop drinking, a young man avenging the death of his friend, and a gunslinger trying to do the right thing in the thick of all of this -- none of these storylines quite congeal, and it's sometimes hard to figure out what's happening and why. Layers of narrative and backstory should enhance the action, not detract from it, and there are times when the action grinds to a near standstill while sorting out the motivations of the characters and the reasons for the action. This is ultimately why, despite the presence of two of film's immortals, El Dorado hasn't stood the test of time as a great movie.
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